Thursday, February 19, 2009

Imagine the Possibilities

(As of January 2002, the FRA has designated ten high-speed corridors under section 1010 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and Section 1103(c) of the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Designation allows a corridor to receive specially targeted funding for highway-rail grade crossing safety improvements, and recognizes the corridor as a potential center of HSR activity. These designated corridors are shown on this map generally from Southwest to Northeast.)

There has been a lot of mis-information about the stimulus bill and what is/is not in it. A lot of the bill's opponents, including the House minority leader, have claimed that there is 8 billion dollars being spent on a train from LA to Vegas, there is no such provision in the bill. This, by contrast, is an accurate description of the high-speed rail provisions of the Recovery Act:

The Stimulus Plan includes two provisions modeled after the Act that finance high-speed rail development. First, the Stimulus Plan provides a $2 billion grant for high-speed rail projects that will remain available until September 30, 2011. The grant will be distributed among applicant states, interstate compacts, public agencies having responsibility for providing high-speed rail service and Amtrak for capital projects associated with inter-city passenger rail services reasonably expected to reach speeds of at least 110 miles per hour. The Secretary of Transportation will have discretion to award grants based on an extensive set of criteria, including the legal, financial and technical capacity of the applicant to carry out the project; compatibility with relevant national plans; and anticipated economic, environmental and transportation effects.

In a last-minute change, the total quantity of funds available was increased. But there’s no special plan for Las Vegas. The money will be spread all across the country. In practice the areas that will get a leg up should be the Federal Railroad Administration’s officially designated high-speed rail corridors. As it happens, LA-Vegas doesn’t make the cut.

Imagine if our country had anything resembling this...

Know hope.

(Hat Tip: Matt Y.)

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